The very first thing we teach you in Tae Kwon-Do is to bow.
We bow to the dojang itself to say “I am here to do Tae Kwon-Do. This is a sacred place of training, and I am going to empty my mind of everything so that I can train fully here. I respect this place.”
We bow to each other, not out of submission, but to say “I am about to enter an arena with you and I am respecting you to take care of me, and you are respecting me to take care of you.”
Even in a full-contact match, we bow to say “I respect you and I want you to know that I understand what’s coming my way. I have asked for it. And, your bowing to me signifies your respect and willingness to accept what I am going to do to you as well.”
When we talk to each other, we always say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am”. I say it to everybody, even the kids.
We require our kids to talk to their parents with the same respect, saying “yes, Mom” or “yes, Dad,” instead of “uh huh” or something.
Respect is at the core of everything we teach at our dojang. And it is that respect that can help us in our interpersonal relationships.
We have many husband and wife training teams, and we also have couples where one spouse trains and the other doesn’t. And, almost like clockwork, the non-training spouse will say that their partner is much happier when they’re training. They’re more pleasant, more respectful. Not just to them, either. When they go to office parties, their co-workers all mention how respectful the spouse that trains is at work.
Sparring, believe it or not, can also help strengthen relationships. Sparring, after all, is all about learning how to read somebody.
I don’t fight against anyone, I fight with them.
If I fight against someone, whomever the bigger, stronger, faster person is will win. But if I fight with someone, I can beat anybody. Because if I’m fighting with them, I am able to read their weaknesses and strengths, and recognize their passive moments and aggressive moments.
When you’re dealing with someone in a relationship, reading them is so important. If they’re having a bad day and you can read that, then you’ll approach them differently.
My son Charlie is three years old now. If I come home and my wife Martica has that look on her face like he has really been a handful, I know her well enough to take Charlie off her hands for a while and give her some rest.
Also, as a black belt, I will sometimes have other men who want to challenge me in social situations. Not necessarily to a fight (although that has happened), but they’ll try to get one-up on me or size me up a little at a party or something.
I could obviously engage with them if I wanted to, but something tells me it wouldn’t turn out so well for them.
I have learned that those people are likely just insecure and the best course of action is to just let them say their piece and move on.
I have a student that, even though she would never admit it, is a high-powered engineer who is very valuable to her company. She came in one day upset about a co-worker who wasn’t pulling his weight on a project. Apparently, the co-worker was holding up the works, preventing my student from getting her part of the project done.
“Just go over and yell at him,” I said, (somewhat) jokingly. Her Tae Kwon-Do training taught her a healthier way to approach the situation, though.
She said that yelling at him wouldn’t do any good because she knew that he had a lot on his plate. So, it really wasn’t his fault that he was falling behind on their project. She was just upset that it looked like she was also going to fall behind on her part as a result.
The way that she was able to read that situation and respond with empathy and respect was awesome to me. And it’s the same on the mat when she’s sparring with someone. If her sparring partner is dropping their hands or defending well against her, she is able to read it and work around it. If she’s sparring with someone who is perhaps weaker or less experienced than her, she will also know to back off and take it a little easier on them, which is the right thing to do
As we are teaching people in Tae Kwon-Do to do the right thing with our fellow students, we are also learning how to deal with relationships in the workplace, in our marriages, in school, and at home.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!